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Rethinking Reich$
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Sumanth Gopinath and Pwyll ap Siôn

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190605285

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190605285.001.0001

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“We Are Not Trying to Make a Political Piece”

“We Are Not Trying to Make a Political Piece”

The Reconciliatory Aesthetic of Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s The Cave

(p.93) 4 “We Are Not Trying to Make a Political Piece”
Rethinking Reich

Ryan Ebright

Oxford University Press

Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s 1993 video opera, The Cave, addresses a potent political subject: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet shortly after its premiere, they publicly disavowed art’s capacity to effect political or social change. This disavowal belies the explicitly political genesis of The Cave, the development of which throughout the 1980s coincided with rising Arab-Israeli tensions and the First Intifada. Early sketches, outlines, and descriptions of The Cave reveal that the pair initially viewed their quasi-opera as a step toward “reconciling the family of man.” By 1993, however, they instead adopted a seemingly apolitical stance, shying away from answering the fundamental question they had set out to answer: How can Jews and Muslims live together peacefully? This chapter argues that traces of this bid for peace remain in the opera’s music, text, and narrative structure, and that despite its purported neutrality, The Cave espouses an Americanized vision of Arab-Israeli reconciliation.

Keywords:   Steve Reich, Beryl Korot, The Cave, Israel-Palestine, political art, Intifada, conflict resolution, arts and efficacy, opera

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